Slow-but-steady approach to life serves cancer patient well

Leonard “Pat” Goodall surprised me when he said the five years he was president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas was the job he enjoyed the most during his academic career. Those were years of controversy, yet years where Goodall thought he did the most good.

Goodall, 75, made his comments from a hospital bed in his bedroom because three months ago, he decided not to undergo any further treatment for inoperable brain cancer, and a month ago he entered a hospice-at-home program.

The fourth president of UNLV between 1979 and 1984 resigned after five years, which is pretty much the pattern of UNLV presidents. They tend to be nudged out after controversy erupts.

There was plenty of controversy on Goodall’s watch. Students burned him in effigy when tuition went up. Regents engaged in a power struggle with him (and won). UNLV’s athletic department was his biggest headache, with deficits and the ongoing NCAA fight with UNLV over coach Jerry Tarkanian’s recruiting methods. And, of course, there was “The Flashlight,” that controversial piece of art outside Ham Hall.

Yet for Goodall, the positive outweighed the negative. On his watch, the UNLV Foundation was established. The popular (and free) Barrick Lecture Series began. The 18,000-seat Thomas & Mack Center started on his predecessor’s watch and was completed on Goodall’s. The Alta Ham Fine Arts Building was opened, as was Beam Hall. The look of UNLV changed dramatically in those years, making the young university look more like a real university instead of Tumbleweed Tech.

The UNLV Foundation was important because “it was the beginning of an organized giving program. There are good people, like Artemus Ham and others, who gave money without a foundation, people who came to us and said we want to help you.”

But Goodall had seen the impact of a foundation when he was chancellor at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and he thought organized giving would help UNLV.

When Goodall stepped down as UNLV president, he was replaced by Bob Maxson, whose tenure was even more controversial. Goodall didn’t leave the university; he stayed on as a professor, teaching graduate public administration classes until 2000.

One goal after resigning was to keep quiet about Maxson’s problems and not take a stance in the conflict between sports and academics.

It was a class thing to do, but Goodall is a class person, even facing death.

“I’ve had a full 75 years,” Goodall said. “I’ve lived a good life, a happy, productive life.”

Best of all, he is not in pain, though doctors tell him and Lois, his wife of 53 years, that is inevitable.

Goodall has written nine books. His last, written while he was ill, is “An Investor’s Memoir,” recommending the slow-but-steady approach to investing, which has served him well for 60 years. It is written for the part-time investor, like teachers and architects. I came away with a better understanding of what I should be doing with my own investments.

Goodall bought his first two stocks when he was 15 after saving a few hundred dollars from a summer job. Even on Thursday, as the Dow dropped 251 points as we talked, Goodall said the advice he has followed for 60 years, remains solid today. Goodall’s new book is available online at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

His daughter, Karen Crane, a teacher and journalist who edited the book, said her college education, her wedding and her home were the result of following her father’s investment advice of investing early, not trying to predict what a stock might do and react to it, and rebalancing asset allocations every year.

Goodall is a model of a conservative investor, and a model of a good-natured, kind man grateful for his satisfying family and professional life, a man who rose above controversies and criticisms and moved on.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at or call her at (702) 383-0275. She also blogs at

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